iPad

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Switch
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery

Score: 62%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: MyTona
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 3; 2 (Online)
Genre: Puzzle (Hidden Object)

Graphics & Sound:

The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery is a hidden object/puzzle game that takes place at your Uncle Richardís sprawling mansion. With your uncleís recent disappearance, you are summoned to solve the mystery of his disappearance and act in his stead in his secret order while he is absent. Most of your time will be spent either visiting the magical pictures your uncle has left for you to study (these are hidden object locations) or at his desk, where various tools are at your disposal to study the pictures. The desk HUD is fairly ornate with scrollwork around the edges and a grid of photos laid out for you to see. Some of them look like theyíd be rather appealing, but due to a stifling game mechanic where the game prevents you from progressing unless you make microtransactions for real world dollars, I only got to actually visit 5 of the 12 locations.

Once you are inside of a hidden object location, there are lots of objects scattered around, some youíll be required to pick up and others just there as distractions. The locations are somewhat attractive, but nothing special. However, the objects youíll be retrieving repeat themselves continually. It got to the point that I pretty much knew where things would be since I was forced to visit and revisit the same locations over and over.

The background music for the HUD is pleasant and a bit haunting, while the music that plays when you are in a scene is a bit more upbeat, with a slight magical twist. The music is nice enough, but with locations as diverse as India, Venice, a Japanese metro apartment and a Mayan temple, it seems like a missed opportunity where the developers could have matched the tunes to their locales more appropriately.


Gameplay:

The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery has you tasked with exploring magic pictures in the hopes of finding your missing uncle. The story goes that your uncle possessed some magical abilities and that some of this ability has rubbed off on you. Your job is to visit and revisit these magical pictures that he left for you in search of clues to solve his mystery. Not only do you have these magical pictures to explore, after you have unlocked them, mind you, but you also have a few puzzles/mini-games to play as well. Each activity/picture must be unlocked by using in-game money and crystals, or you can simply go to the Store and buy your way through the game. A lot of games have moved towards this microtransaction-focused method of play. I am not a fan of it, but as long as you can progress through the game without spending actual money, I am okay with it. In The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery, an artificial limit is placed on the player, because each time you visit a magic picture scene or a mini-game, it costs energy. The more you play and level up your skills, the more energy you can have to refill, but I found that I could easily burn through my allotted energy in about 20 minutes and then I am forced to wait several hours before my energy refills, or I could buy more, of course. This is a terrible business model for a game. Who wants to play a game that they can only play for a few minutes, unless they want to spend actual cash? Personally, I like to jump into a game on my lunch hour and burn through a number of levels. With The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery, I am forced to move on to another game because the game itself prevents me from progressing. Further, I canít even look at the Store unless I am connected to WiFi, which often I am not if I am not at home. Again, this is ridiculous.

As you visit the scenes, you will be picking up items over and over. From what I am seeing in the game, I have to assume that the game was programmed to randomly scatter a set number of items across the scene, but they are the same items group of repeating items. You might have a written list of items at the bottom, you might have silhouettes of the items, the entire screen may be black except for a small ray of light to help you find the items, or the words may even be scrambled. The one I hate the most is called Morphs and they donít explain what you would be looking for, but this is a scene where the objects will faze back and forth into different items, so you must focus on an area and look for changes. I applaud the developers for trying some new things, but they just werenít implemented properly and they werenít fun.

The mini-games I played consisted of Blocks, Pipes and Memory Match. In Blocks, you slide around blocks to clear the way for one specific block to escape the area. Itís a twist on the slide puzzle. In Pipes, you rotate pipe pieces so that you have one continuous set of pipe running through the area. Memory Match is a basic memory game where you flip over the cards and try to match pairs. Pretty basic stuff.


Difficulty:

The difficulty in The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery lies in the fact that you are artificially limited in how long you can play, unless you want to spend cash. The items arenít too hard to find, although some are really placed in tricky and obscure places. However, if you look at the same scenes enough, you have a pretty good idea of where everything could possibly be because you have seen the scene so many times. As for the mini-games, the variants I played were Blocks, Pipes and Memory Match. I was hoping these would increase in difficulty because I am a huge fan of memory games, but you got the same basic set of 12 cards and every time I did the game, I beat it in exactly 14 seconds. A little more challenge would have at least caused me to want to revisit the puzzle.

Game Mechanics:

The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery tries to do a lot of things instead of sticking to the basic hidden object premise. As you go through the game, youíll receive quests which will line up on the left side of the screen. You can accept them or simply close them, but they will remain there, regardless. The purpose of these quests is to motivate you to explo,re the redundant pictures, but I found they had the opposite effect on me. When the butler asks me every single day to locate something he has misplaced, I donít want to keep helping him - itís time to get a new butler. What I found confusing is that youíd be asked to locate a certain item. When you accept the quest, there is often a hint at the bottom as to which picture contains the missing item. When Iíd go to that picture, sometimes Iíd find the item, but often I wouldnít. Also, finding the item doesnít consist of locating it within the picture, as one would expect in a hidden object game. Rather, when you complete the hidden object scene, youíll get a message as to whether you "found" the item or not, which seems odd. I never could figure out what determined whether or not you found the item or whether it was just random.

Additionally, there are several items on the desktop that give you goodies when you click them. Basically, they will drop energy, money and items when you click them. They also recharge over time. Other than giving you goodies, they seemed to serve no purpose. At the bottom of your HUD, youíll see a tab called Collections and this is where the items that you find or pick up as a desktop freebie go. When you have collected all of the items in a particular collection, of which there are many, you must combine them using certain additional items that you will either find along the way or purchase for real world money. The items donít seem to make much sense or have a rhyme or reason. They simply seem to be put there so you must make a purchase.

It is also annoying that you are asked to buy starter packs every time you visit the game. I also get constant reminders from the game every two hours or so that my energy has refilled. It would be better if the game gave you the option of playing for longer periods of time with longer recharge times between them. Lastly, a bunch of your fetch quests consist of promoting The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery on social media and I donít see a way to reject the quest.

I canít in all good faith recommend this game. Maybe if changes were made to get rid of the need to recharge every few hours, it would be more fun, but as it is, going over and over the same few magic pictures is a drag and one Iíd rather not experience.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Related Links:



iPad Skylanders: Battlegrounds Mobile Starter Pack Sony PlayStation 3 Guardians of Middle-earth

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated